Saturday September 4th was Futures Night at MSU Soccer Park. The New York Red Bulls II were looking to snap a seven-game losing streak in front of a large crowd and against Hartford Athletic, who beat them 7-0 earlier in the year, here's how this Division rivalry played out.
You walk into MSU Soccer Park and the noise was deafening. The Hartford Athletic Supporters made the trip down I-95 across the Tappan Zee Bridge to New Jersey and they brought the firm with them. The Hartford supporters group could be heard banging away at their drum and chanting all over the stadium from their perch above the field in the parking deck (none of them wanted to buy a ticket).
This night was special because it was Futures Night, a night where very young players in the Red Bulls academy come out to see the Red Bulls II play, a team full of Red Bulls Academy products like John Cortez, who ESPN Plus broadcast voice, Jonathan Gass called "a star" in the Red Bulls system, who had recently been called up to the USL team.
The Red Bulls CEO Dietrich Mateschitz co-founded Wings For Life, a charity that funds research for spinal cord injuries, which tonight's game supports.
Futures Night is THIS SATURDAY as we host @hfdathletic!
Our match worn jerseys will be auctioned off with proceeds benefitting Wings for Life!
— New York Red Bulls II (@NYRBII) August 30, 2021
While the away team were well represented, plenty of neutral and Red Bulls II fans packed the biggest set of bleachers. A crowded stadium and a fine evening set the stage for the Red Bulls II to face a team that came to MSU Soccer Park early on in the season and thumped them 7-0.
Baby Bulls Take the Lead
As soon as the whistle blew and the action followed, the play was fast and furious. There was a different air about the Red Bulls, who came out with energy and looking well-rehearsed.
Right away, the Red Bulls II got on the scoreboard first thanks to one of their best offensive players, Jake LaCava, rom Connecticut. In the 11th minute, the Red Bulls broke out of their own territory with a pass to Omar Sowe, who was posted against a Hartford defender. Sowe made a pass to Jake LaCava, who dribbled into the Hartford 18. LaCava did a stepover that shook off a defender and drilled a left-footed shot that surprised the goalkeeper and gave the home team a 1-0 lead.
C H A O S
— New York Red Bulls II (@NYRBII) September 4, 2021
The Baby Bulls were not babies tonight. Ten minutes later, Rafanello found Red Bulls striker, Jorgensen making a deep run in enemy territory. Rafa's long ball was collected cleanly on the run by Jorg, who had his defenders beat. The Dane, who has MLS experience took a weak low shot that was saved by a diving goalkeeper.
Even though New York came into tonight's game on a seven-game losing streak and all signs were pointing towards another loss against a team that was higher up in the standings, Head Coach John Wolyniec had the Baby Bulls ready to play tonight and they carried a 1-0 lead into the halftime break.
Second Half Highlights
You would have to go back eight games to find the last time Red Bulls II had a lead. This team of under-20 developmental players found themselves jumping out to an early lead after 45 minutes and it was because of their enthusiasm to get after Hartford and create chances on the counter-attack which led to them keeping Hartford on their heels and putting in their most complete effort of the season.
In the 50th minute, two passes out of the Red Bull half and a nice through ball down the left wing, played Omar Sowe in on a rush. Sowe made one fake and quickly shifted onto his left where he shot hard, but just missed the net. It was another example of Red Bulls counter-attacking that had Hartford shook and giving up chances left and right.
- SUB | Serge Ngoma replaces Mathias Jorgensen
It was a good 60 minutes from Jorgensen, in just his third game back. The manager injects speed into his attack, hoping the team can continue to keep Hartford on their heels with energy from the forwards.
LaCava intercepted a cross deep inside Red Bulls territory. He then sped forward into open field and passed to Ngoma making a run. Hartford's goalie came out early, slid and knocked the ball out of play in what was a very nervy moment. However, Carlos Obregon Jr. went down with injury and the back-up goalkeeper, James Caldwell replaced him.
On Futures night where many Red Bulls fans and young academy players came out to see players who were developed at the Red Bulls Academy, the home side did not give the team that had embarassed them on Oct. 4 and June 10 with a stellar all-around performance.
After the 90th minute, 16-year-old scored on a breakaway to put the icing on a Futures Night Cake for the New York Red Bulls organization. The team snapped a horrible seven-game losing streak and Wolyniec's men were back on the right path after a disastrous two months.
What went into this win for New York? They were ready to play smart and hard from the get-go. Clearly, the large crowd and the obligation to perform on Futures Night influenced their enthused performance. While the goal-scorers deserve lots of credit for finishing the deal, defensive players from Captain Kyle Zajec, who is 24-years-old to 17-year-old defender John Cortez did their roles well and the offensive players were able to drive the attack forward with speed and creativity.
Red Bulls II Postgame Reactions
This was important to the Red Bulls II because they won at home on Futures Night. They also were able to show the young academy players and coaches who came out, how well they could play as a team.
On Futures Night, game-worn jerseys of Red Bulls players are auctioned off and the Proceeds go to a charity founded by the Red Bulls CEO Dietrich Mateschitz called Wings For Life, which funds research for Spinal Cord Injuries.
The Red Bulls II coach, John Wolyniec had to be relieved that his team won their first game since July 10. Wolly discussed how it felt to give the fans something to cheer about after such a long wait and to do so on Futures Night.
It feels really good to get a win after seven losses, so that’s a great way to get that monkey off our back. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that it happens on Futures Night. It’s important for us to have young players be a part of this club, feel like they have an opportunity at this club, and I think that gave us a little extra.
Jake LaCava has shown maturity all season long through thick and thin. He has been as reliable spokesman for the team throughout the season and has started almost every game this season, along with Daniel Edelman. The 21-year-old scored against his native state Connecticut tonight and got the Red Bulls ball rolling in the right direction. He discussed what led to his team taking the lead and closing out their first win in two months.
We wanted to come out, we knew that they had a game cancellation, so we wanted to jump on them early and see just how ready they were for this game, and I think that we did that well. We brought energy and we capitalized on our opportunities early, and we didn’t give anything away, and that led to an overall good performance by us and in a good way.